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Health workers blast €295 "employment tax"

Social workers, physiotherapists and eleven other professions are facing the statutory registration charge by next year.
May 30th 2012, 4:34 PM 6,169 49

IMPACT TRADE UNION is vowing to ‘do whatever necessary’ to secure a reduction in the registration fee due to be demanded of some of its members.

A €295 annual fee is due to be imposed on social workers and 12 other health professionals from next year, and the union says it is tantamount to a “tax on employment”. Social workers are the first profession subject to the new arrangements, and those that remain unregistered after 31 May 2013 will be barred from practising.

IMPACT is advising social workers who are already qualified to postpone their registration until the fees dispute is resolved.

While the introduction of statutory registration is welcomed by IMPACT, it’s felt that the fee is too high, particularly when compared to the fees of €88 for nurses and €90 for teachers.

The statutory registration means what social workers, social care workers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists, chiropodists/podiatrists, clinical biochemists, dieticians and orthoptists will be at risk of being struck off the register for professional misconduct, poor performance, criminal conviction, or impairment due to illness including dependency on drink or drugs.

Spokesperson for IMPACT Christina Carney has warned the health minister not to “underestimate the resolve” of those involved, and said it’s highly possible that a dispute may arise if an acceptable solution isn’t found.

IMPACT has also said that its members will have access to legal representation should their fitness to practice be called into question. Health care professionals are being advised to seek advice from their union immediately is any complaints are made against them.

Nurses are already subject to statutory registration and Clare Treacy of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said that the number of complaints is on the increase, and that legal costs can be substantial – up to €10,000 a day in some cases.

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Emer McLysaght

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